How to Get the Most from Your Colocation Data Center

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Data center colocation is an effective way for businesses to reduce capital expense by sharing building infrastructure, physical security and mechanical equipment. While colocation providers are responsible for the data center as a whole, individual tenants are responsible for their deployments and their activities in shared spaces. Every deployment makes up the larger data center ecosystem, and tenant behavior can affect the ecosystem as a whole. By following best practices, your company can get more out of your data center footprint while contributing to a better data center experience for everyone.

Consolidate and Virtualize

It’s best to consolidate and virtualize servers before looking for a colocation provider so you have a better idea of how much space you’ll need. You’ll also see efficiency gains in power usage. If you haven’t consolidated your servers, develop a consolidation plan when hardware refreshes come around and revisit it when you’re about six months away from the end of your contract. Consolidation will give you a better idea of how much space and power you will need down the road, but be aware there is such a thing as over-consolidation, so keep business continuity in mind. Don’t back yourself into a corner with a hundred workloads running on one physical machine with no failover plan.

Keep Your Space Clean

Most colocation providers have a strict policy for cleanliness. The importance of keeping your environment clean can’t be overstated. There are reasons you must keep your deployment clean and free from boxes and packing materials. Lint, dust and fibers can damage IT equipment over time. These seemingly benign particles can become static-charged and interfere with servers causing data loss, erroneous commands, resets and other issues.Most importantly, many packing materials are flammable, and therefore should be removed at your earliest possible convenience.

In addition to keeping your deployment clean, it’s important to keep common areas clean. Break rooms, conference rooms, presentation rooms, hallways and shared work spaces are benefits for all tenants use. Treat it as if it were your own office. You wouldn’t want to show one of your best clients around a cluttered office, and so it should be the same with your data center. If you need somewhere to work and stage equipment, let the colocation provider know. They can help.

Consider Air Flow Management When Racking and Cabling

“Well thought-out cabling and placement of equipment can have a significant impact on cooling efficiency,” says our Director of Customer Operations, Eric Davenport. Your colocation provider can help you set up equipment with floor tiles, blanking panels, exhaust chimneys, hot aisle/cold aisle containment and other solutions that will allow you to take advantage of a data hall’s design to make your footprint as efficient as possible.

Know the Security Policy

ISO, PCI and HIPAA-compliant data centers will follow strict security policies to ensure that they and their tenants remain in compliance. This is why your colocation provider should be a stickler for security policies.

Keep up with notifications from your provider, as you can miss important notices about security policy changes or important questions about access to your deployment. Be sure to keep your list of contacts permitted to enter your space up to date. Security maintains a list of these contacts for each data center. If your employee or contractor is not on your list, they will not be permitted to enter the facility. In most cases, a new contact can be added or removed immediately, but check with your provider to be sure. Security policies and procedures may seem inconvenient at times, but remember, this is what keeps your equipment and your data safe, and it’s what you’re paying for.

Take Advantage of Services

If you don’t have cabling and infrastructure experts on your team, it would be wise to leverage your colocation provider if they offer these services. Having an optimally cabled deployment provides greater efficiency in cooling and networking. Rather than manage multiple vendors, you may be able to leverage multiple solutions through your colocation provider, such as networking, cloud services, network security and remote hands.

Read Your Contract

Most colocation contracts are set for 36 months, so you’ll want to make sure your company is aware of and comfortable with all aspects of the contract. Make sure the SLAs meet your company’s standards for availability. Know when your contract comes up for renewal so you can plan accordingly. Re-evaluate your business goals and the IT requirements necessary to meet them months before your contract is up.